During last season, Lakers fans were none too pleased with the performance of reserve point guard Rajon Rondo, who averaged just 7.1 points and 5.0 assists, shooting 41.8% from the field and 32.8% from the 3-point line. In the postseason, though, that changed as the legendary emergence of Playoff Rondo—a decidedly better player—emerged, delivering 8.9 points and 6.6 rebounds, with 45.5% shooting and 40.0% from the 3-point line.
Rondo opted out of his contract in the offseason, signing a new deal with the Hawks.
But in his place, the Lakers added point guard Dennis Schroder and in contract with Rondo, Schroder is drawing rave reviews even here in the early going.
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As The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor said, praising Schroder in a breakdown of the team, “Having Dennis Schroder is like having Playoff Rondo all season—except better, with a lot more scoring and a little bit less playmaking.”
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— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) January 7, 2021
Schroder has averaged 15.5 points and 5.0 assists through eight games with the Lakers, making 44.5% of his shots and 35.5% of his 3-pointers.
Dennis Schroder Fitting Well With Lakers Star Anthony Davis
But Schroder’s true value might not be seen until the end of the season, as O’Connor pointed out. As a point guard, Schroder has allowed the Lakers to remove pressure from LeBron James, who handled the ball more last season than he had in any of his previous seasons going back to 2013. James led the league in assists.
With a short offseason and a tight schedule, the Lakers do not want to put that much pressure on James. Using Schroder in tandem with star big man Anthony Davis, especially in the pick-and-roll, has allowed the Lakers’ offense to stay afloat when James sits.
— Italo Santana (@BulletClubIta1) January 6, 2021
O’Connor continued on Schroder:
He’s starting this season and has played nearly all of his minutes with Anthony Davis, which is important. The Lakers offense got way too stagnant last season especially when LeBron was off the floor. Schroder helped stabilize things without James. He has already shown great chemistry with AD, too, as both a scorer and as a passer. Schroder’s mere presence means that LeBron does not need to dominate the ball as much as he did last year, because Schroder can create for him.
Dennis Schroder Thriving Defensively, Too
The Lakers acquired Schroder as their first major offseason move last November, trading away Danny Green and a draft pick to the Thunder to get him. In addition to his own statistical contributions, he is one of the reasons that James has been getting more rest this season than at any point in his career, playing 32.4 minutes. He played 34.6 minutes per game last year and averaged 38.3 minutes in his 18 NBA seasons.
Dennis Schroder came to play for the Lakers at the end of the 4th quarter vs the Spurs.
hitting a 3 and then making two key defensive plays to get Lakers some breathing room pic.twitter.com/Wn3OSLdRRN
— LakeShow Highlights (@LA_HighLights24) January 2, 2021
Schroder also has been a big contributor on the defensive end. That part of his game has blossomed in recent years.
“To be honest, that’s like 60 to 70 percent of my game,” Schroder said about his effort on the defensive end. “I got to play defense to get into my offensive rhythm. I got to pickup the point guard full court, just play 94 feet and try to bring energy, so my teammates see it, everybody sees it and everybody’s into it.”
He’s made a big difference, bringing Playoff Rondo energy to the early season.